A contrary and wayward attitude also applies to the work of two ‘artists in focus’. The digital preservation of the work of the Belgian audiovisual artist Joëlle Tuerlinckx indirectly led to an appraisal which, spread out over a myriad of spaces and programmes, will be presented throughout the festival in various forms for your eyes and ears. A number of recent landscape portraits by the American filmmaker James Benning are shown, in which he goes on the lookout for the effects of duration on the perception of space.

The argosfestival 2005 offers film and video retrospectives of two prominent artists:

James Benning

Since the beginning of the 1970s James Benning (1942) has been considered a key figure in the American avant-garde. He elaborates on elements from structural film, but at the same time he is perceived as a protagonist of the ‘new narrative’ movement during the 1980s. His rigorous structures and tightly composed images betray his mathematical background, whereas the often autobiographical subjects reflect his working-class roots and outspoken political activism.

His recent explorations of cinematographic duration and decelerated mapping of American landscapes create a spatial experience, resulting in works we don’t seem to be looking at, but are in. To him the landscape is a function of time. His films are enquiries into the relation of time with the perception and understanding of the notion of space. The work, which will be presented during the argosfestival, consists of portraits of dehumanised geographical landscapes or, as he indicates himself, “attempts at seeing (and listening to) rural, urban and savage environments as ‘places’, presenting these places in aesthetical, socialeconomic and political terms”.
The films of the California Trilogy each consist of thirty-five static sequences of two minutes thirty seconds, accompanied by their specific background sounds. The first part, El Valley Centro(1999), concentrates on the agricultural industry in the Central Valley; Los(2000) focuses on the city of Los Angeles and Sogobi (2001) shows the gradually disappearing jungle of California. Within the beauty of these landscapes, Benning always points out hidden and frightening elements, which might bring these very landscapes to ruin. 13 Lakes (2004) focuses on thirteen great American lakes and their geographical and historical relationship with the landscape. Each lake is presented by a single 10-minute shot, equally framing water and sky. The focus is not on coincidental geography – let alone social geography in any way – but rather on the play of light and reflections. In the same way Ten Skies (2004) puts skylines on the screen, showing how they are caught by the landscapes and the atmospheric conditions beneath them. Additionally Circling the Image(2004) is also shown, a portrait of James Benning that Reinhard Wulf realised during the recordings of 13 Lakes.

Joëlle Tuerlinckx

In the work of Joëlle Tuerlinckx (1958) film, video, audio, installations and publications are porous and interwoven. To her, art cannot be reduced to an external thing or sublimated into a concept. On the contrary, her work is an investigation into how art itself ‘thinks’. Art, not as a representation or an expression, but as a situation. Her films and videos are not structured from narrative lines, nor through parallel editing or dialectic of ideas, but from situations. Not as an objective entity, but as a ‘void’, or parataxis, in the form of nonhierarchical relations and constellations.

Her films and videos mark off fragments in infinitude, through shots recorded from the hip, edited in realtime. Duration is determined by the experience and conditions of the moment – reality as a laboratory, as a natural choreography of image and sound. Her relationship to the image is the subject of the investigation, not the image itself. Her basic material is time. She makes notches in time, through multiplication, intensification or subtraction – constructions that inevitably remain on a metaphorical level. The impossibility to relate to a specific moment or event – anticipating ahead, grasping afterwards – is precisely its essence. The moment unveils the alignment of the void.

For the argosfestival Tuerlinckx has selected moments from her video and film recordings and has subdivided them according to taxonomy of various types of works. This audiovisual oeuvre is now being archived by argos. An archive, like Borges’ library, which can’t be anything but infinite. All over the festival you will be able to see and hear the work of Joëlle Tuerlinckx, partly within the framework of the program Black & White Outs. The compilations are made available in the Media Lounge at argos. Some recent works or adaptations – 4 x 60 minutes of extracts taken from Études Coréennes, Films d’’Étude série blanche and Films aux Blancs– are projected in the Black Box. Concurrently a ‘re-adaptation’ of the ‘mono-dialogues’ with artist Willem Oorebeek, a sound work that originally was recorded during the exposition Der Perfekte Besucher (Kunsthalle Münster, 2005), is permanently installed at the argos exhibition space.

This event is part of argosfestival 2005


James Benning, 13 Lakes, 2005